Kamayani Bali Mahabal, April 23 2013 , Kracktivism
l 23, 2013, Kractivism
“Every day, Change.org members win people-powered campaigns for social change”.
Just to give a background to those, who are reading about change.org for first time. It’s a popular and fast-growing website for petitions. In the last two years, Change.org has grown from 1 million to more than 25 million users, according to the site . It began as a liberal blogging site and then pivoted to become a hub for petitions, mostly with a liberal or populist bent.
Staring as dot.org domain name to its declaration that “our business is social good” to its certification as a B Corporation, Change.org positioned itself as a progressive force. It promised to run campaigns for “organizations fighting for the public good and the common values we hold dear—fairness, equality, and justice.” That’s no longer its mission. Something changed last year, The policy changed, ‘ partners’ became ‘advertisers ‘in the name openness, democracy and empowerment . So which means now they will accept paid promotions from conservative organizations, Corporations , that no bar. I had written Open letter to CEO Ben Rattray last year in which I said I will not participate but monitor change.org.
So here is an expose of monitoring campaigns of change.org in India
In India we have two petitions being hosted on change.org, one by victims and one by perpetrators ?
You think I am joking please read below
The Incident behind both the petitions :-
Late evening on 11 April 2013, a group of students from Nalsar Law University went to the Rain Club located in Banjara Hills, Hyderabad, for what was meant to be a farewell party for the graduating seniors.
When they stepped out of the club around 10.30pm to wait for their cab, one of the women students spotted someone taking their pictures with a mobile phone. She objected and demanded to see the mobile. The mobile turned out to be a dummy, without a card in it. When she further objected and demanded that the phone with which photos were taken be handed over, other media cameramen who were present began to film the altercation.
The students were outraged at this invasion of their privacy and the callous response of media cameramen who continued the harassment by following them to the car and persisting in filming them even as they were vehemently protesting this invasion.
The next morning several Telugu channels began showing the footage. Some websites also put up the footage. TV9, ABN Andhra Jyoti, Sakshi TV, Studio N, NTV, IdlyTV, News 24 .
The incident represents blatant sexual harassment of women in a public place, criminal intimidation of the women with threat of public defamation through media. The anchors of the channels repeatedly referred to the women as punch drunk, half naked, and nude, when the women students were dressed in strapless evening wear. One of the female anchors referred to their attire as “creepily offensive short clothes.” They also claimed that they were dancing in the club although the entire story was played out on the street and not inside the club. The media persons were not present inside the club. To make matters worse, CVR News put together several clips of provocative dancing from various sources, implying that the present incident was somehow connected to those. Significantly, while only a couple of channels were present outside the club and were involved in the incident, the story was generously shared with many other channels and web sites. All the channels replayed the footage provided by the offending channels without providing any opportunity for the victims of this coverage to respond or give their side of the story.
The channels also were assuming the tone of moral police, claiming that the students were “leaving Indian traditions in tatters by their dressing and behaviour”. The anchors of the channels took on the role of moral police by commenting on the young girls’ clothing, even as the channels’ staple fare for advertising revenue on their news bulletins comprises song and dance sequences from films and film events featuring skimpily clad women doing vulgar dances to vulgar lyrics. The reporters and anchors held forth on excessive freedom for women and its “devastating” effects on society.
The channels also falsely claimed that the students’ behaviour was condemned by women’s organizations even though they only showed the statements of two little-known local politicians, thereby misleading public opinion.
So here on change org , we have a petition by supporters of NALSAR students asking for Stringent actions against media houses participating in voyeuristic reporting , addressed to Justice Katju, Chairperson, Press Council of India , Justice N V Ramana, Acting Chief Justice, High Court of Andhra Pradesh , Ms Aruna D K, Minister for Information & Public Relations, Cinematography, AP Film, TV & Theatre Dvlpt Corp, AP Justice Verma, Chairperson, News and Broadcasting Standards Authority Mr Manish Tiwari, Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Union of India
The petition says
The media in our country has engaged in relentless sensationalism, resorting to cheap and lowly tactics to raise TRPs and viewership. This includes airing concocted stories; violating people’s privacy by taking video footage, morphing the images and airing it against completely fabricated and sensationalistic stories; secretly taking videos of people in private parties and clubs and extorting them; and engaging in harassing and abusive conduct. One such incident of unethical, irresponsible, and victimizing behaviour is an incident that occurred on the 121h of April, 2013 to college girls from NALSAR University of Law.The petition has reached 5000 plus signatures
And on the other hand, we also have change.org giving platform to the voyeuristic reporters .with a petition floated by Electronic Media Journalists’ Association of AP , asking to Condemn the action of a group of students who assaulted media persons addressed to, Manish Tiwari, I&B Minister, Govt of India , Prof. (Dr) Faizan Mustafa ,, Vice-Chancellor, Nalsar , Mrs D K Aruna, Minister of State in AP , Justice Mr M Katju, Chairperson, Press Council of India Justice Katju ,Justice Verma, Chairperson, News and Broadcasting Standards Authority ,Justice N V Ramana, Acting Chief Justice, High Court of Andhra Pradesh ,Hari Prasad, President of Electronic Media Journalists’ Association of AP Please note the targets of both petitions are same .
The petition says
Andhra Pradesh has the maximum number of television news channels not only in India but also in the entire world. The ratings and the importance of these channels show how reliable and responsible the media is in Andhra Pradesh. They never restore to cheap and lowly tactics. There is self-monitoring desk as well as the important organization NBA that keeps monitor on all the channels content.
This petition also has 5000 plus signatures
Now I want to ask change.org, which petition’s victory will be their victory ?
Wait a minute,
whoever wins or loses,
it’s a Win- Win situation for change.org.
As a big fans of freedom of speech, they claim their democractic platform. and well whoever wins. Change will be their submitting the petition claiming their VICTORY !! . But I wonder what will they do when they have to take a STAND ? So which petition will they push ? or will; they push both ? and then see pros and cons in context of the political situation and in a closed door meeting then thrash out two teams to work on these two petitions . Call both parties and weigh the probabilities and then take a call, keeping both parties in dark on probabilities ?.
So, guys wake up, all those who petition on change.org .This online platform is a for profit company , who through these petitions is trying legitimize their image as that of ACTIVISM .They also get commercial benefits through donations and sponsorships just by providing platform to all you ,under the garb of various human rights issues . VICTORY is for change.org
Change.org’s mission statement says ‘ to empower people everywhere to create the change they want to see, and we believe the best way to achieve that mission is by combining the values of a non-profit with the flexibility and innovation of a tech startup. ” They call themselves “social enterprise,” using the power of business for social good. “Social Enterprise,” is a term that’s gotten a lot of hold among people who start companies and want to make a difference in the world. But social enterprise as opposed to what? Anti-social enterprise?
Here is where Change.org’s business model comes into play. Change.org sells what are called “sponsored petitions” to its advertisers. Most are nonprofits–right now they include Amnesty International USA, Greenpeace and the Human Rights Campaign — but there’s nothing to prevent companies from sponsoring petitions. Tapping into its audience, Change.org collects names on those petitions and then sells those who opt in to the sponsor, for about $2 per name. Some advertisers get discounts, and other pay more, for example, for people in specific states. Here is a request to Change .org , please, on behalf of companies everywhere Spare us the pieties about how “our business is social good.”
Change.org is a digital media business. Like MTV or Facebook, It creates or aggregates content, the petitions, to attract an audience whose attention, in the form of email addresses, it sells to sponsors.
It’s not selling social change. It’s selling you and me. .
So here is my Appeal to all friends, activists, celebrating their victories, and petitions on change.org,
It’s time ….
If you’re a member at Change.org take action by unsubscribing from their list. At the very least they can’t profit further off your email.. If you see petitions passed around by friends on Change.org don’t sign them and inform them what’s going on. It’s important to Explore alternatives
Hopefully the activists in India will very soon have their own activist, accountable, and transparent platform.
Watch out this blog for more :-)